From NY Post: For the world’s richest man, charity begins — and stays — at home.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has given only a tiny fraction of his $160 billion fortune to philanthropic causes, falling far behind fellow billionaires such as Bill and Melinda Gates and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, public records show.
Although Bezos, 55, and his estranged wife MacKenzie recently pledged $2 billion to a new charitable initiative, their previous giving amounts to a total of just over $145 million or .0906 percent — far less than one percent — of their net worth. Out of $100,000, that would be like spending $90.06 on charity.
“The record of both Amazon and Jeff Bezos reveals that they are takers, not givers,” said Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes Long Island City, where Amazon plans to set up a corporate headquarters. “When they make promises of how generous they will be, I look at what they have done in the past to know what the truth really is.”
Over nearly two decades, Jeff Bezos has given paltry donations to the Bezos Family Foundation, a charity that was started by his parents in Washington state in Sept. 2000, state incorporation filings show.
Between 2000 and 2017, Bezos contributed just under $6 million to the group that Jacklyn and Miguel Bezos kickstarted with $20,000. Ma and Pa Bezos, who were early investors in their son’s fledgling company in 1995, are worth as much as $30 billion today.
In 2004, Bezos, who had already amassed a net worth of just over $2 billion, joined the board of his parents’ non-profit, along with his wife and siblings Mark and Lisa and their respective partners, according to tax filings for the group reviewed by The Post.
But it was the parents who continued to finance the non-profit, mainly through donations of Amazon stock. In 2017, Jacklyn and Miguel Bezos contributed $30,266,250 in stock to their charity, public documents show. (The foundation makes donations to educational initiatives in the US and around the world.)
It wasn’t until 2011 that Jeff Bezos, whose wealth had shot up to more than $18 billion, finally gave his first contribution to the Bezos Family Foundation: $940,538 in Amazon stock through Zefram LLC, a company that he controls, federal filings show.
As his wealth climbed, Bezos continued to keep a tight rein on his cash, at least when it came to his family charity. In 2015, the year his wealth took a nearly $30 billion leap and his net worth shot up to $58.4 billion, the family foundation received a total of $5,002,590 in Amazon stock from Jeff and MacKenzie, public records show.
The $5,943,128 the tech titan donated to his parents’ charity over the last 17 years averages less than $350,000 annually.
Bezos has long been known for his stingy ways with employees at Amazon. According to Brad Stone’s 2013 book “The Everything Store,” meals in the company cafeterias are not subsidized for workers and new employees receive a backpack with orientation materials and various pieces of equipment, including a power adaptor, that they are asked to return upon resignation.
But in the last year Bezos seems to have opened his philanthropic spigot slightly. He took to Twitter to ask his 700,000 followers for suggestions on the direction his philanthropy should take, and he recently doled out $33 million to finance scholarships for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children and $10 million to With Honor, a political action committee that helps veterans enter politics.
After announcing the creation of the Bezos Day One Fund, an initiative to battle homelessness and support early childhood education with the creation of Montessori schools in needy neighborhoods in September, Bezos earmarked $97.5 million to homeless charities across the country.
Still, the grand total of Bezos’s giving — $146,443,128 — is well below other major wealthy philanthropists, who signed on to billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s 2006 challenge to give half their fortune to philanthropy.
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